Disabled residents unhappy with new Wave Transit services
The Vision Voucher Program has been around since the mid 90’s. But soon, the meter on the program, will run out.
Brenda Mellick considers herself pretty independent; a luxury most of us enjoy. But that independence is challenged daily. Ms. Mellick is legally blind. For the past four years she has been using Wave Transit’s Vision Taxi Program, a program that allows visually impaired residents to ride in taxis, at a reduced rate.
The vouchers cost $3 each, and residents can purchase up to ten a month. The cost difference is paid for by federal funds though Wave Transit. But as of June 30th, the voucher program will be replaced with a van service for the disabled.
Wave Transit assistant director Arlanda Rouse said, “Because this is a voucher program dedicated to only visually impaired passengers, the other disabled passengers on the other programs were not receiving the same type of service.”
Wave said they have to do away with the Vision Voucher Program because it is not meeting federal standards. To receive funding, equal service has to be provided for all people with disabilities.
Rouse said there are some pros to using the van service. It will meet federal requirements, and offer unlimited rides to users instead of just the ten a month. A con is that appointments need to be made 24 hours in advance. “There will be some loss of convenience, but you will have the ability to travel more during the month,” Rouse said.
Dozens of visually impaired residents will be absorbed into the Wave van service that already makes more than 300 trips a day. That is why Ken Lafar said the van service just will not do. “It’s worth it to us to have the mobility and the ability to get where we need to go, when we need to go,” he said. “As oppose to waiting a day ahead and trying to do all that it doesn’t make sense.”
Both Brenda Mellick and Ken Lafar said they are taking their fight for the taxi voucher program to lawmakers. They have already contacted city council, and Congressman Mike McIntyre.
This change will also hurt the taxi companies. Both companies WWAY spoke with Thursday said the loss of the income from the voucher system will be felt.
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